Anthracyclines in a patient with acute leukemia and severe cardiomyopathy requiring mechanical support: A case report

J Oncol Pharm Pract. 2022 Apr;28(3):729-732. doi: 10.1177/10781552211062148. Epub 2021 Nov 30.


Introduction: For young adult patients with acute leukemia, both the efficacy and cardiotoxicity of anthracycline-based regimens have been documented. We report the case of a patient with severe cardiomyopathy, mechanically supported by a left ventricular assist device (LVAD), who subsequently developed Philadelphia-chromosome positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia (Ph + ALL). To our knowledge, this is the first report of anthracycline administration in a patient with heart failure requiring mechanical support.

Case report: Our 27-year-old female patient was diagnosed with Ph + B-ALL as part of workup for leukocytosis. Past medical history included non-ischemic cardiomyopathy with a left ventricular ejection fraction of 30-35% and moderate-severe right ventricular dysfunction, for which LVAD had been placed 4 years previously.

Management & outcome: After shared decision-making and multidisciplinary discussions, we felt that hyperfractionated cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, and dexamethasone alternating with cytarabine and high-dose methotrexate in addition to ponatinib (HyperCVAD-ponatinib) best balanced the patient's goals for aggressive treatment with the potential for rapid and durable remissions. The patient received a single reduced dose of doxorubicin alongside dexrazoxane with her first cycle of HyperCVAD-ponatinib. She attained a complete molecular response 22 days later and remains in remission (with stable cardiac function) 30 months later on maintenance therapy.

Discussion: In conclusion, LVAD placement is not an absolute contra-indication to anthracyclines if such therapies offer the best opportunity for a durable response.

Keywords: ALL; Case report; anthracycline; cardiomyopathy; dexrazoxane; doxorubicin.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anthracyclines / therapeutic use
  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic / therapeutic use
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • Cardiomyopathies* / drug therapy
  • Doxorubicin / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute* / drug therapy
  • Stroke Volume
  • Ventricular Function, Left
  • Young Adult


  • Anthracyclines
  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic
  • Doxorubicin